My friend Hayden Riner just wanted to use the restrooms at Athens Drive High School. This should be no big deal, right? You need to go when you need to go. Instead, Hayden was instructed by his teachers he could not use the men's restrooms and instead had to use the women's. Why? Because Hayden was assigned female at birth, despite the fact that many of his peers accepted him as being a man. That's why I am petitioning Dr. James G. Merrill, Superintendent of Wake County Public School Systems (WCPSS), and Dr. Jim Martin, Chair of WCPSS Policy Committee, to ask for a change in WCPSS policy to specifically protect transgender student's right to use a restroom congruent with their internal identity and protect them from bullying and harassment from students and faculty.
Bathrooms are supposed to be a non-issue, so long as they're clean, but when you're transgender, like Hayden and I are, they turn into something much more stressful. Like a mental war zone, we're faced with the choice of either using the restrooms congruent with our identity, and facing the possibility of violence and harassment, or using the restroom congruent with our biology, with our peers watching us and categorizing us into "male" or "female" against our best efforts for the opposite.
Hayden was offered the ability to use the single stall restrooms in the library, however this frequently was halfway across the school, meaning the trip from the classroom to the bathroom and back often resulted in missing instruction from teachers. This "solution", although better than the women's restroom for Hayden, was described by him as "embarrassing". If a policy like the one above was put in place for the WCPSS, Hayden would not have to miss as much instruction as his non-transgender students, as well give him the power for school administration to punish the students and teachers that had been harassing him when he did opt for the men's restroom. It's simply a win-win. Hayden uses the restroom he wants, and he no longer misses instruction due to long hallway strolls or anxiety caused by bullying. Sign our petition to tell Dr. James G. Merrill and Dr. Jim Martin to protect transgender students under school policy starting today.
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